My rating: Outstanding adventure! (5/5)
I loved this intensely emotional, action-packed, and suspenseful novel about figuring out who you are and what exactly makes you who you are.
Emma wakes knowing nothing about herself but her name. The handsome man beside her tells her she’s his wife. What else is she to believe? But as time goes by and she begins to live her life again, her peace is disturbed by a strange woman talking in her head, and by dreams that feel so real, they could be. Real, that is.
The emotional depth, inner turmoil and conflict of the main character, and the need to find out what exactly has happened to Emma, kept me enthralled in this story. The reader knows just as much (or only a little bit more) about Emma, her life, and her world, as Emma does, and it heightens the suspense. I put this book aside only because I had to, and when I picked it back up I tore through it, turning pages into the wee hours.
While the story and the description set up a love triangle between the man who claims he is Emma’s husband, and the man Emma dreams of, there really isn’t a love triangle. Yes, it’s easy to figure out the bad guy. But I don’t think that ruins anything. Emma still has to discover for herself that he is bad, and I loved that it wasn’t black and white. Even when she finds out the truth, she still loves him. Instead of being Evil, the bad guy is motivated by human emotions such as greed and possessiveness. It made the relationships more realistic, with all their messiness and complications.
I immediately engaged with Emma, emotionally sharing her journey of self-discovery. The emotions fairly leaked off the page, and I haven’t been so invested in a character in a very long time. Emma is real, vivid, and immediate, and the reader is immersed in her doubt, fear, love, and pain. She may not always make the best decisions, and it was a bit frustrating to watch her hesitate when I wanted her to make up her mind, but it makes sense that she wouldn’t have the resources (i.e., memories and experience) to make the right decision immediately. I can’t wait to find out how Emma works through the next part of her story in Prototype, mostly because she was so vivid.
Let’s not leave the world-building out of this. While there are some gaps in the history of the world, I don’t mind not knowing everything. Over the course of the novel, as Emma discovers more and more about her past, and about her world, so does the reader. I enjoyed the slow reveal of the world, putting together the pieces one by one. I describe a bit of the world in the next paragraph, which may be a spoiler if you, like me, enjoy discovering a world as you read about it. So if you don’t want to know, stop here and go check out this book! **SPOILER ALERT**
In a partially dystopian future, human reproduction has been drastically reduced, and the eastern part of the American continent has reacted by severely proscribing the lives of its girls and women. They live in slavery, some who are able to reproduce slotted to be wives, others given professions. It reminded me of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale as well as a short story by Catherynne Valente, Fade to White. In the western part of the country/continent, women are free, and resistance fighters fight against the eastern nation. Technology has advanced to a point beyond our own, and a mad scientist is in charge of finding a way around the reproductive issue. While this part felt more fantastical than science fictional, and stuck out a bit in the weave, it does amazing things for the final chapters and the resolution of the plot. The suspense kicked up about six notches, and I loved it, so I’m not going to complain.
I miss books that drag me in and don’t let me go, and this was definitely one of those. The character development and worldbuilding both felt very real and very immediate. This is an outstanding and entertaining science fiction novel, and I highly recommend it!
These may seem all over the map, and not very related to Archetype, because I’ve never read anything quite like it before. If you have, do tell us about it!
Unwept begins with a woman who wakes in a strange place and can’t remember her past. From there, everything else is pretty different, but if you’re looking for a protagonist with amnesia, you might enjoy this one. NB: It is a part of a serial novel only, so it’s short and cliff-hangery.
The Forever Watch is quite different, but the eery setting feels familiar. About a woman who begins to suspect her life on the generation ship is not what it seems, it encompasses her investigations with the help of a not-handsome police officer. This one has romance, superhuman powers, intrigue, creepiness, and citizens slotted into specific professions based on aptitude tests.